GIVEAWAY + Book Review: Kristin Nicholas’s new Sunflower book

You know how much I adore Kristin Nicholas. So when she offered to send me a copy of her new book–and include an extra copy so I could give one away to a lucky reader–I was all over it like a flock of birds over a freshly-washed car.  Let’s take a look at 50 Sunflowers to Knit, Crochet & Felt, published in March by St. Martin’s Griffin (MSRP $21.99; available via the link for $15.17 as of the time of this writing).


Apart from the fact that they are bright and beautiful, one of my first questions was “Why sunflowers?” In the introduction to the book, Kristin explains:

At our New England farm, my family grows over fifteen varieties of sunflower every summer. The growing season doesn’t last long, so to tide over my lack of real flowers until the next season’s bloom, I began knitting, crocheting, and felting sunflowers to decorate our home and clothes. Having this sunny motif with us through the winter makes the house feel warm and cozy.

In her book, Kristin shares a selection of fifty sunflower-related items to knit, crochet and felt, including the flowers themselves (obvy!), leaves, stems and even some teeny-tiny insects to go along with. This isn’t a traditional “pattern” book as much as a guide for making flowers and related items, with lots of instruction and inspiration for using them in your own way.

To get you started, the book begins with twenty-some pages of instructions, tips and techniques, including suggested materials, explanations of techniques used (such as slip stitches, bobbles and wrapped stitches for short rows), crochet notes–including how to read the charts, tips on how to stuff and wire your creations, how to make antennae and pompoms, felting instructions, embellishment with embroidery and beads, and tips for working with color.

kristin green index

Chapter 2 is a visual “index” to the patterns–page after page of photographs of each motif, along with a reference to the pages where you’ll find instructions. (I love these visual indexes; sometimes I know which pattern I’m looking for but don’t necessarily remember the name.)

nicholas visual index

Chapter 3 contains the instructions for completing the motifs, with knit and crocheted designs in separate sections.

Chapter 4 contains a selection of 15 projects incorporating some of the motifs. This is a great way for the reader to see how fabulous the various motifs look when used on real-life projects. The projects run the gamut in terms of how much additional crafting they require: for example, the Giant Sunflower Pillow is crocheted (full instructions are provided), starting with a center disk, then layers of crocheted petals are added, and the pillow is finished with embroidery embellishment.

kristin pillow

Other projects are super-easy and don’t require additional knitting or crochet, like the market bag. You simply take a straw basket and embellish it with various motifs.

kristin market bag

A list of the ones used in the sample is provided or you can select your own combination of flowers to sew on.

The polka dot vase is a hilarious crocheted cover that is put over a glass jar; wired flowers can then be displayed in it.

kristin vase

A knitted washcloth is cheery and you can add some spiffy potholders to your kitchen,

kristin potholders

while the three-dimensional “botanical prints” are a clever way to put some sunflower art on your wall.  In fact, once you see how versatile the motifs are, you’ll be thinking of a gazillion ways to embellish everything that you come into contact with.*

kristin VW embellsihed

Just keep in mind that this is not primarily a knitting pattern book, but rather a guide to making numerous sunflower-themed embellishments–knit, crocheted and felted. We’ll have to wait another day for a book that focuses more on Kristin’s gorgeous, color-filled sweater patterns.  In the meantime, though, “50 Sunflowers” has much of what we love about Kristin Nicholas style: bright, luscious color; floral motifs; and a folk-art feel.

Leave a comment no later than Thursday, June 13th at midnight EST and tell me what you’d embellish if you made some of the motifs from the book. Make sure you leave your email address or have a profile that will enable me to get in touch with you. I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner on Friday, June 14th. A huge thanks to Kristin Nicholas and St. Martin’s for providing us with a giveaway copy!




*No, I didn’t really cover a VW with sunflowers; it’s photoshopped!

33 Thoughts

  1. Susan (sjanova) says:

    If my mother had a grave and gravestone, I would embellish that. Since she didn’t want that, I would have to decorate her 4 children and 4 grandchildren — well, I would send sunflowers — different ones — each of my siblings, my son and my 2 nieces and my nephew. Mom loved sunflowers.

  2. Dee Sulenski says:

    I HAVE a VW Beetle that could be embellished!

  3. Cheryl says:

    I would use little sunflowers to adorn baby hats that I make for charity. The flowers are so beautiful.

  4. Barb says:

    Sunflowers are one of my most favorite flowers! They just seem to radiate ‘happy’ when they are in bloom and you can’t help but smile when you see them. I think I would embellish my front door with a bouquet of these sunflowers.

    Thanks for sharing a review of this book and some really playful ideas.

  5. LPStarr says:

    I love sunflowers and would embellish my kitchen, bath and purses just to get started.

  6. susan says: and I’d cover anything no nailed down!!! lol

  7. Melissa says:

    I could see hats wearing sunflowers, especially on a dreary rainy day.

  8. Renae Woolsey says:

    My living room has a sunflower decorating theme, and I absolutely adore the sunflower throw pillow!

  9. Paula Durrant says:

    I live in the desert. Just looking at the delicious pictures makes me dream of gorgeous colorful sunflowers both inside and outside [it hasn't rained in years]. I am President of the 120 member Knitting Guild of the Desert. I can imagine a knit-along with a riot of colorful sunflowers to be donated to a local nursing home or the local cancer center. So many wonderful possibilities – Kristin is a fiber artist whose combination of color and pattern knock my socks off [as it were].

  10. Andrea says:

    I would put magnets on them and cover my refrigerator with sunshine.

  11. Cheryl says:

    I would put the flowers on the hats that I make. It would make them adorable. Thanks

  12. chppie says:

    I think I’d make up some flowers to put on the fence near my sunflower patch. Since I only planted one variety I think it would perk up the garden a bit and make me laugh.

  13. Anne says:

    I have several ideas in mind other than offered in the book. I love making baby sweaters….now just need a girl baby. Last two were boys. I also want to make my granddaughter a tote bag. She is tall and lanky just like our sunflowers.

  14. Pat says:

    I would work at lampshades, every size. Love the idea of light passing through flowers!
    asteride on Ravelry

  15. Calypso says:

    A great big panel hanging on the wall! Flower power.

    patmom on Ravelry

  16. Sara Denbo says:

    I am thinking about how many flowers I can embellish on my new grandbaby-to-be’s knitted outfits!

  17. Fracksmom says:

    I love her blog, and have been discovering more of them like yours through her. I would use them on salior hats to make very unique summer hats

    Thank you for doing this give away.

    Fracksmom on Ravelry

  18. Tobie says:

    Her work is such an inspiration;

  19. I would fill a vase with knitted and crochet sunflowers to display on my dining room table.

  20. Lisa Charpentier says:

    Everything will be embellished with sunflowers!

  21. Tracey says:

    I would love to win a copy of this book! I

  22. Savannagal says:

    I would love to win this book for a good friend of mine. She embellishes everything; fingerless mitts, sweaters, handbags. She is so creative. She would love the book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. Chris says:

    I love sunflowers, but didn’t get any planted this year. I would make some to put in my front entry, on the deck and certainly on some of the art quilts I make. Have used fabric ones many times but trying knitted or felted would be fun.

  24. Sheila says:

    I’d embellish a hat to wear on those interminable rainy Oregon days.

  25. Ginny says:

    I would love to make a bouquet of sunflowers to brighten our rather dark house. What a treat it would be in the middle of winter.

  26. Barb :0) says:

    What a Wonderful give away …. Thank You !!!!
    I would love to knit some for baby sweaters …. and also for some bags I knit and felted !!!!

  27. denise pluta says:

    I would decorate my whole pool area with __splashy sunflowers

  28. JoAnne says:

    I would like to decorate wool tote bag purses that I make. I love Kristen’s designs.

  29. Joyce says:

    My IPad! Looks like a fun book!

  30. MelodyJ says:

    Looks like a fun book.

  31. Joan says:

    Wow! The book looks awesome!

  32. Kate says:

    Kristen has some of the best designs around..

  33. I embellish everything anyway… and I do drive a 15-year old blue new beetle. However, I am planning to make a “Yarn Bomb Fairy” costume. I think one of the sunflowers with a stem would be a great magic wand, don’t you agree?

Reply to Susan (sjanova)